The Deceptive Brain: Blame, Punishment ...
By: Robert L. Taylor – IFF Books, $17.95
Description: Preposterous as it sounds, we are not who we seem to be. Not even close. At the heart of this misperception is our deep-seated conviction of free choice. Based on emerging neurobehavioral science findings, The Deceptive Brain makes the case for human experience as a narrative illusion — an executive summary of sorts — that emerges from an incredibly complex brain.
Verdict: Given that The Deceptive Brain drills down on what this aforementioned finding means for the way we blame and punish, and therein presents a bold alternative approach to criminal justice based on blameless responsibility, you won’t be shocked to learn that author Robert L. Taylor, M.D. dives deep into examining how ideas and understandings that deviate from reality are now tantamount to being accepted and spread as truth and beliefs.
After the Preface (where we are told that central to our understanding of human experience is an unswerving conviction in mind that puts us in control and allows us to choose and will our way through life, and yet despite this deep-seated, and wholly universal belief, rigorous attempts to prove it have met with surprising failure), we then get the Introduction (subtitled Waning of Homo Grandiose, and featuring a Mark Twain quote), we then get 11 chapters (albeit the final one is solely Conclusions) that stream through the analyzation of the human cognition systems, how human perception and memory are not perfect, and, in part, how we humans fill in the gaps with our understanding of the world, thus creating a reality that is a combination of sensory input and our preconceptions.
With rational thinking only accounting for a small part of the overall thinking process it seems most of our day-to-day understandings and decisions are driven by an intuitive operation with our brains. Furthermore, the subconscious has tremendous influence in our thinking process where often we reach a conclusion subconsciously and only then, once now residing within the conclusion itself, provide reason and logic to justify the results.
Therefore, we need “meta-thinking,” i.e., self-examination of our thinking process to reduce undesirable bias and misconceptions, I would willing acknowledge and thus within these articulately creative, always thoughtful, never pandering, and yet always steadfast chapters we get titles such as Getting Blame Right, The Devil Made Me Do it and Other Defenses, The Astonishing Illusion, and both Deep Story Telling and the Self and Relocating Evil.
In conclusion, Neurobehavioral science is sending us an unexpected message. As preposterous as it sounds, we are not who we seem to be. Thus our deeply held conviction that we choose our way through life is being seriously challenged and this brand new book - based on relentlessly accumulating evidence – provides evidence that, in time, a radically revised version of criminal justice will be forced. Better it happen sooner than later, I think we can all agree.
About the Author: Robert L. Taylor, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has spent much of his career exploring the relationship between mind and brain. He is the author of six books and has been a consultant to several high-security state prisons and the U.S. Secret Service.
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